Challenging races like the Grafton to Inverell can sometimes have a special place in people’s lives. Ian ‘Blue’ Manton was a local rider who took part in 24 Grafton to Inverell’s commencing in the 1960’s. He finished in sixth place in 1973 but was best remembered as a true gentleman of the sport.…
To demonstrate the significance of the event in his life, ‘Blue’ came out of semi-retirement to ride the 50th Classic in 2010.
The infamous Wire Gully climb 20km from the finish of Inverell was synonymous with ‘Blue’ as motorists were accustomed the sight of him pedalling from Inverell to the top of Wire Gully each afternoon.
‘Blue’ passed away in 2016 after a long battle with cancer.
The Ian ‘Blue’ Manton Encouragement Award is now an annual award that will be presented to the Northern NSW Division rider (Port Macquarie and north) whose best effort epitomises the qualities displayed by ‘Blue’ in his 24 Grafton to Inverell’s.